Wetherspoons confirm imminent closure of second busy pub

Property business: Wetherspoons founder Tim Martin

After a month of issuing “no comments” on its future, Wetherspoons have confirmed that they are to close the popular Skylark pub on South End.

The move has been described as “a huge loss for the area”.

The decision comes despite a petition supporting The Skylark being signed by more than 1,200, many of whom will have been regulars at the usually busy boozer, located in a large, two-storey building that was previously a carpet shop and Green Shield Stamps outlet.

The closure, announced by the Tim Martin-run pub chain last night, is the second by the company in Croydon in less than a month, following the closure of The Milan Bar on the High Street in February.

Staff were summoned to the Skylark yesterday afternoon to be given the news. Around 50, mainly part-time, staff are affected, and they have been told that they can get work elsewhere in the chain if they want it.

Last orders: The Skylark’s closure will leave just two ‘traditional’ pubs between Croydon and Purley

A Wetherspoon spokesman told Inside Croydon, “We can confirm that Wetherspoon is closing The Skylark pub in Croydon.

“The final trading day for the pub will be March 27.

“There will be no redundancies as all staff are being offered jobs at other Wetherspoon pubs.

“We understand that staff and customers will be disappointed with the news.

“On occasion Wetherspoon does close pubs and this is the case here.

“We thank the staff for their hard work and excellent service and our customers for their loyalty.”

Some beer-lovers reckon that the Brighton Road in South End, once over-optimistically dubbed “the Restaurant Quarter” by Negrini-era council executives, will be left with just two pubs left in the 2½-mile stretch between the Flyover and Purley after The Skylark’s closure.

The chair of the Croydon branch of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, David Lands, said, “I think it’s a huge loss for the area.

“We’ve lost so many traditional pubs along the Brighton Road. Going down from the flyover you’ll be left with possibly two pubs on that main road before you get into Purley itself.”

The closure of The Milan Bar is thought to have been linked with a property deal.

Sources suggest that the bar, located in the Grants complex, had been offered for sale for at least three years and that it may yet re-open as a pub under new owners. If The Skylark is being sold by Wetherspoons for similar reasons, then it will appear as if Tim Martin’s company, post-Brexit, is trying to make more money from the commercial property business.

Lands said, “The Skylark was always popular, so I can’t believe it wasn’t turning over enough money.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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14 Responses to Wetherspoons confirm imminent closure of second busy pub

  1. Tragic. I’m a big Wetherspoon’s fan: for the good value, well-kept and interesting real ales you understand. If anything summed up Croydon, it’s Wetherspoons. So it’s hard to see how the town will survive. Mind you, we’ve always got the ‘spoons in Purley. Oh, and there’s that ‘Welcome to Croydon’ one in George St popular with morning boozers

  2. There used to to be a total of 10 Weatherspoon pubs in the borough if you include their spin off Lloyds No.1 brand and we will soon be left with four.

    Postal Order in the Croydon part of Crystal Palace, now closed. William Stanley, South Norwood, sold to another pub company, Flora Sandes, Thornton Heath, closed, Ship of Fools, West Croydon converted to a supermarket, Milan Bar which was their Lloyds No.1 and now the Skylark have gone or are going.

    This leaves Moon Under Water, Norbury, Sir Julian Huxley, Selsdon, Foxley Hatch, Purley all smaller than average Weatherspoons and of course the George.

    I don’t understand their business plan unless they have indeed now become more of a property business.

  3. Who cares if the Brexit Arms or the Gammon & Bigot closes? Proper pubs like the Dog & Bull and the Royal Standard will reap the benefit

    • jackgriffin1933 says:

      The Royal Standard perhaps, as Emma – backed by Paul ‘Black Sheep’ Bossick – is doing a good job there. As will no doubt The Oval and The Builders, to name a few.

      Not the Dog necessarily though, as Young’s pricing – even allowing for current inflationary pressures – is just crazy, and the pub is too expensive to drink in now. As is Young’s estate in general.

  4. Many of Wetherspoon’s pubs would have been acquired at knockdown prices so they are now cashing-in on them as commercial properties and who can blame them in these tricky times?
    Although it is a bit sad to see The Skylark’s demise imagine the daily cost of just opening the place up.

  5. Lewis White says:

    The Pub – drink in it, or lose it.

  6. Lewis White says:

    My only criticism of Wetherspoons is that their pubs aften look pretty much the same.

    On the plus size, much in their credit, they deserve the architectural historian’s praise , looking at the nationwide perspective, for saving a large number of pubs, and the thirsty beer drinker’s thanks for opening a huge number more.

    Plus, of course, their support for small real ale breweries, which is really important to the fact that we have many many breweries now that make proper beer. And for giving us really affordabe beer, as well as massive choice over the year, with festivals a feature of their pubs.

    Do loyal readers of Inside Croydon remember the bad old days days when almost every pub in an area belonged to the same brewery, and that the choice of beer was–if you were lucky– a session bitter on hand pump (like Charringtons IPA, and –if you were lucky- maybe a stronger one (like Bass) or Courage Directors, and, depending on the clientele, light ale ?. Browns in a bottle.

    Those days were incredibly dull , beer wise. Not a lot of choice.

    Ironically, we have a lot to be thankful for in respect of the beer rennaissance that came from the USA–home of anodyne brews aplenty. Wetherspoons have helped popularise the citrus hoopy brews from the West Coast and elsewhere. Now, UK brewers’ versions thereof.

    Maybe Tim Martin thinks that expansion is over. Let’s hope that he spends some of his well-earned money on giving the slightly -reduced empire a bit more individual character. And fresh carpets.

    Anyway, thanks Tim.

    • AHM says:

      “their support for small real ale breweries”

      This is such a common misconception. Wetherspoons look out only for Wetherspoons and their own bottom line. They pay *well* under the market value for everything they get from small brewers – frequently tiny companies who, like many others, are barely making ends meet.

      The cost of a cheap pint comes at a massive cost to small businesses. So many of Britain’s remaining pubs are tied to big Pubcos… Heineken, Green King, Fuller’s all have their own supply chains. Small brewers are therefore in the unenviable position of trying to get their cask products to market via a decreasing number of free of tie pubs. For some of them, selling to Spoons is the only thing stopping the business from going under and sadly, for many, it’s only going to be a temporary solution.

      The average take home pay of brewery workers is abysmal. Spoons are the problem and not the solution.

      • You’re right about pay, both in breweries and pubs. But there’s a massive amount of misinformation put out about Wetherspoons. Tim Martin seems to attract it. He’d disagree with what you say about his support for small brewers.

        • AHM says:

          I’m sure that Tim Martin would be delighted to argue his case, but as a brewer, I’ve been well aware of his game for quite some time and on ethical grounds, have been boycotting his businesses (and other Pubcos) for years.

          Supporting independent pubs and breweries is vital for the future of good beer and good environments in which to drink it.

  7. John Harvey says:

    Pub in the Fairfield Halls ??????

  8. Lewis White says:

    Fairfield Pub ?

    You mean that beautiful institution, now gone, formerly called “The Ashcroft illustrated Safety Curtain Arms” ? With its artist-painted cameos of famous Croydon theatre folk, and idyllic landscape, much loved by the theatre-going Croydon public ?

    ‘ Far as I know, it was thrown in a skip or might even now be up on the roof of the hall , plugging a hole. But sadly, like the pint I enjoyed before lunch, not going to be enjoyed again.

    • Pete Jenkins says:

      Word has it that the wonderful Henry Bird Safety Curtain was “skipped” or whatever happens when asbestos is found. I am pleased to have the small illustrated colour brochure detailing all the faces and designs as a souvenir and reminder of those good days.
      I see that the name Ashcroft “Playhouse” was short-lived (and ridiculous) and the venue is now back to it’s original proper name of Theatre.

      • Lewis White says:

        Would it not be fantastic if a sponsor (who had earned their money honestly) would come forward and pay for a new safety curtain painted just as Henry Bird beautifully designed and painted it. Or–why not– , even better than that, with today’s lighting wizardry, would it not be possible to have a safety curtain that could be projected in turn with sequences of Bird’s design, photos of Croydon’s artistic and other great and good, and many new designs for our times?

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